Which car has the most devices

Which is the best car diagnostic device? We test out!

Who wouldn't want to look into the guts of their vehicle with an OBD2 diagnostic device? In particular, if there are errors or problems, you always have to go to a workshop ... and that becomes expensive. It would be damn handy if you could diagnose the car yourself. All today's vehicles are equipped with extensive electronics. Various control units monitor all functions. The data can be read out and evaluated via the OBD2 interface with the appropriate diagnostic device. We looked at many of these devices for you in order to make your purchase decision easier in the end.

We made the comparison for you ... which diagnostic device is the best?

There is a large number of diagnostic devices on the market (as well as other options) for carrying out your own vehicle diagnosis. We did the big test for you and show you which devices are the best. Our team of experts shortlisted a total of 25 devices and in the end our TOP 10 list was created.

It also answers the question of whether there is a vehicle diagnostic device for all vehicles. So stay tuned!

Different ways of diagnosis

To be able to put your car through its paces, you have practically three different options. You can use a mobile phone app, you can use software that is installed on your own laptop or you can buy an external diagnostic device. Each of these options has its advantages and disadvantages or are suitable for different target groups. Here is a brief overview:

For example, anyone who is in the used car trade or even has their own workshop cannot avoid an external diagnostic device. These usually offer by far the largest range of functions and additional parts. Usually they are also suitable for practically every type of vehicle.

In particular, if you want to diagnose older vehicles, an external diagnostic device is appropriate, as the necessary connection would otherwise be missing.

Modern vehicles (from year of construction 2001) have an OBD-2 interface, which is used for communication between the vehicle and the app, the software or the diagnostic device. The latter, however, can also work with an older type of connection, which the apps cannot do.

“When a warning lamp lights up, it's often just minor things. Instead of having to go straight to the workshop, you can use a diagnostic device to find out exactly where the fault is ” 

Sven Mischke, auto journalist

Can you diagnose all makes of car?

In principle yes ... but of course it depends on the device. Not all devices can work with all manufacturers. The devices that can diagnose almost any car are often true professional devices and are correspondingly expensive. So you have to think carefully about what exactly you need. As a workshop, of course, you need as wide a range as possible. As a private user, the most popular models or even a special app may only be sufficient for one manufacturer.

The OBD2 interface

As just mentioned, all vehicles built from 2001 onwards have an OBD (on-board diagnosis) interface. To establish a connection between the vehicle and the diagnostic device, an OBD2 diagnostic device is required, which is plugged into the corresponding output on the vehicle. These adapters usually have Bluetooth or WLAN and thus connect to the device or app.

These adapters are available from 20 euros. Cheaper low-cost products are strongly discouraged, as they usually do not have high-quality electronics and so errors often occur. For example, the Carly app only works with the Carly adapter. This ensures that the adapter and the app can communicate really well. The motto here is: if you buy cheap, you buy twice!

Hundreds of functions can be performed via the interface and the adapter, error codes, data on fuel consumption, torque or data on acceleration can be read out. But data can also be sent the other way around to the vehicle and re-encoded in this way. The OBD2 interface is therefore the linchpin of communication.

Which external OBD2 diagnostic devices are there?

There are different versions of the external diagnostic devices:

  • small, handy devices with a small screen and buttons
  • small devices with a slightly larger screen with touch function
  • larger devices (comparable to an external navigation system) that also have a larger screen
  • large diagnostic devices that are more reminiscent of a robust laptop and have many special keys for standard functions

Here, too, it depends entirely on your taste and your wallet. The larger devices with a large screen and touch function are usually the most expensive. The prices range in a very wide range from 50 euros to 7,500 euros and more.

Some of these diagnostic devices only work with cables, others with the OBD adapter and / or Bluetooth. In the case of vehicles of older series in particular, only the connection with the appropriate cables works. The real professional devices among the diagnostic devices often come with dozens of possible cables and connections.

What exactly should you look out for when buying an external diagnostic device?

The choice is enormous ... so it is important to think carefully about what is important to you and what is not so. In principle, there are various differentiation criteria that can be applied in order to decide on the right device. These include:

  • The general range of functions
    • What diagnoses can be made?
    • Is the function for reading and evaluating real-time data possible?
    • How is the data processed graphically?
    • Can coding also be used?
  • The size and quality of the screen
    • Is the screen easy to read?
    • What's the resolution?
    • Do you want a touch function or do you prefer “real” buttons?
  • The scope of delivery (extra cable, etc.)
    • What is there?
    • Do I even need all the accessories?
    • Are there connections to rarer or older models?
  • The price
    • What do I want to spend?
    • Is it worth the price?
    • What is my budget and what exactly do I need the device for?
  • The type of connection (via cable, via OBD, directly via Bluetooth or WLAN)
    • Do I prefer a wireless connection?
    • Can it also be by cable?
  • The up-to-dateness of the system (and the update conditions of the manufacturer)
    • Does the manufacturer offer free updates?
  • How expensive are later updates in case of doubt?
  • Is the adapter also suitable for OBD2 diesel?

The test

As mentioned at the beginning, we have summarized the statements of 4 experts (two master car mechanics, a car journalist, a petrol station operator) and a hobby mechanic.

In total, we took a closer look at 25 external diagnostic devices. All devices were tested on three different vehicles of the brands VW, BMW and Toyota. All models are from 2017-2019.

A catalog of criteria was drawn up in advance, against which the devices should be tested. Two to three other criteria were added during the testing, as these were considered important and had not been taken into account beforehand. The following criteria were particularly important to the jury for the devices:

  • Scope of diagnosis
  • Accuracy of diagnosis
  • Database for error codes
  • General function of the device
  • General ease of use
  • Screen quality and resolution
  • Durability of the case and screen
  • Update policy of the manufacturer
  • scope of delivery
  • Documentation and operating instructions

After all devices and all tests had been carried out, it was time to evaluate the test results. So here are the TOP 10 for you in reverse order ... so we start with 10th place at the top:

The TOP 10

10th place: NEXPEAK NX 501

description

The Nexpeak NX 501 makes a robust impression. Although the screen is small with its 2.8 ’, it is very easy to read. The device can only be used for reading out the error codes. The connection is established via the OBD-2 interface. All vehicles with OBD are supported. Unlimited free updates are offered.

Features

  • Reading out and deleting error codes
  • Unlimited updates
  • Monitoring the battery

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Reliable reading of the error codes
  • Support of all manufacturers and models
  • Very small range of functions

Price: around 75 euros

9th place: LAUNCH CRP 429

description

The Launch CRP 429 reliably performs a complete system analysis. In comparison, it reads out all control units without any problems, can call up data live and also recognize subsystems. The design is attractive and the buttons are well made. A report can be generated and sent by email.

Features

  • Reading out and deleting error codes
  • Large internal database
  • Display of the diagnostic process

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Decent range of functions
  • Reading out a wide variety of data - also from subsystems
  • Sending the data by email
  • Not exactly cheap

Price: Around € 390

8th place: AUTEL MD806 Pro

description

A very solid device from Autel in comparison. All vehicle types are supported. In addition to reading out error codes and the error memory, this device can do a lot more, such as calibrating the steering angle sensor, displaying live PID data from several sensors or component tests to check the EVAP system.

Features

Reading out and deleting error codes - also manufacturer-specific!

Special features such as relearning the parking brake lining or DPF regeneration

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Large range of functions
  • Lifetime free updates
  • Not very cheap

Price around 250 euros

7th place: LAUNCH X431 PRO mini

description

In addition to the standard readout of error codes and error memory, this diagnostic device can monitor live data, carry out a system calibration or carry out automatic scans. The very good color monitor ensures clarity. Updates are included for 2 years. Approx. 80% of all vehicles are recognized. The connection is made via bluetooth or wifi.

Features

  • Steering angle calibration
  • Reset electronic parking brake
  • Tire pressure monitoring system reset
  • Fuel injector coding

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Decent range of functions
  • 2 years of free updates
  • Intensive price

Price around 900 euros

6th place: LESCARS Auto Diagnose

description

Small but mighty. All error codes are displayed in plain text on the small but detailed monitor and can also be reset. With only 4 buttons you can easily find your way through the menu of the scanner. Works especially well on vehicles from Audi, VW and Skoda. Around 130 system components are monitored.

Features

  • Output of errors in plain text
  • Especially for Audi, VW and Skoda

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Good fault diagnosis
  • Good monitor (monochrome)
  • Little functionality

Price: around 70 euros

5th place: VIDENT ilink 440

description

Our 5th place is an all-rounder among the devices that is compatible with all vehicle models. It reads and erases fault codes with ease and switches off MILs from the engine, transmission, airbags and ABS. Real-time data output is also possible. The 2.8 ’’ color monitor is easy to read, albeit a little small.

Features

  • Supports Electronic Park Brake (EPB) functions
  • Battery configuration
  • Record live sensor data

Strengths and weaknesses

  • 3 years of free updates
  • Very robust workmanship
  • The screen is a bit small

Price: around 150 euros

4th place: ANCEL FX2000

description

In addition to diagnosing the usual protocols, the FX-2000 also performs a full diagnosis of the ECU systems (SRS, ABS and transmission). Live data is presented in a visually appealing way as a graphic. The 4 ’’ color screen enables a very good display and the buttons ensure good handling.

Features

  • O2 sensor test
  • Advanced scan mode
  • Recording and evaluation of real-time data

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Almost all vehicles are supported
  • Output in eight languages ​​possible (also German)
  • Free lifetime updates
  • Only works with 12V vehicle batteries

Price: around 180 euros

3rd place: ICarsoft CR Pro

description

The ICarsoft CR Pro supports around 40 car brands and is an all-in-one device for error analysis and troubleshooting. All relevant engine data, transmission data, data on the airbag and ABS, etc. can be read out and processed via the OBD interface. The 4 ’’ screen is sufficiently large. Updates are free.

Features

  • Many manufacturers are supported
  • Read life data
  • I / M readiness test
  • O2 sensor test
  • Evap system test etc.

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Wide range of tests for many systems
  • Monitoring the battery
  • Free updates

Price: Around € 250

2nd place: LAUNCH CRP MOT II

description

The launch CRP MOT II was specially designed for the European market and includes 11 different functionalities. All major brands are supported. In addition to a Bluetooth adapter, other connection cables are also included in the scope of delivery. The device is easy to operate via the very large 7 ’’ screen with touch function.

Features

  • Oil reset
  • Electric parking brake reset
  • Battery management system reset
  • Calibrate the steering angle sensor
  • Code the crankshaft position sensor

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Data can be printed out
  • Free updates for 12 months
  • Instructions in German will be sent by email
  • Wifi compatible too

Very high price

Price: Around € 890

1st place: AUTEL MaxiCheck MX808

description

The Autel diagnostic tool has completely convinced us. The diagnosis can be carried out for all vehicle manufacturers. The very large 7 ’’ color display provides a good overview and the quad-core processor enables the data to be processed very quickly. Reading and overwriting error codes, calling up live data and many other unique functions make the Autel MaxiCheck MX808 a worthy winner.

Features

  • Read and delete error codes
  • Display of live data
  • Vehicle search via chassis number
  • Support of DPF regeneration
  • Injector coding
  • And much more

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Great performance
  • Good features
  • Appealing menu navigation and graphics
  • One year of free updates

Intensive at around 500 euros

Price: Around € 500

Alternatives to external diagnostic devices

In order to show you a concrete alternative to external diagnostic devices, we present three diagnostic apps below that we examined in an earlier test. So here are the TOP 3 OBD-2 diagnostic apps for mobile phones:

3rd place: OBDLink

This app works with a special OBD adapter. The user guidance is clear and fully configurable. 90 different values ​​can be read out and processed in real time. All analyzes and data can be saved as a CSV file or sent as an email.

2nd place: Torque Pro

The Torque Pro app has a huge range of functions. Real-time analysis is a matter of course. A special feature is the possibility of uploading your data to the manufacturer's website for in-depth analysis. Over 1,000,000 installations.

1st place: Carly

The users of Carly confirm that they could save up to € 500 per year in maintenance and repair costs by using the app. The range of functions, especially the unique functions such as the used car test or coding, and especially the diagnosis with the manufacturer-specific error codes, which are much more detailed than the generic codes, have completely convinced us. At Carly there is a universal app with which you can code or read out several different car brands.